In inpatient rehabilitation, large amounts of practice can occur safely without direct therapist supervision: an observational study

J Physiother. 2019 Jan;65(1):23-27. doi: 10.1016/j.jphys.2018.11.004. Epub 2018 Dec 17.


Questions: When a hospital gymnasium used for inpatient rehabilitation is set up to allow semi-supervised practice: what percentage of practice is performed as semi-supervised practice, what percentage of patients in the gym are actively engaged in practice at one time, and is the semi-supervised practice that occurs safe?

Design: An observational study using periodic behaviour mapping.

Participants: Patients in general and stroke rehabilitation units of a metropolitan hospital.

Outcome measures: Observations in the rehabilitation gym quantified the number of patients in the gym and the numbers of patients practising and resting. In observations of patients practising, the condition of practice was recorded as being with a therapist, with a family member, or with no direct supervision. The number of adverse events during the data collection period was collected from the hospital Incident Information Management System.

Results: The rehabilitation gym was observed on 113 occasions, resulting in 1319 individual patient observations. An average of 12 patients were in the gym during the observations. Practice was being performed with family supervision in 15% of observations and with no direct supervision in 26% of observations, resulting in semi-supervised practice accounting for 41% of all observations of practice. The percentage of observations that were of patients taking part in active practice was 78%. There were no adverse events in the gym.

Conclusion: In an inpatient setting, a large percentage of practice can be performed as semi-supervised practice. This does not appear to compromise the time spent in active practice or patient safety.

Keywords: Physiotherapy; Practice; Rehabilitation; Stroke.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inpatients
  • Male
  • Patient Safety*
  • Physical Therapists*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Self Care*
  • Stroke Rehabilitation*